National briefs: N.C. speaker gets GOP Senate nod

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WASHINGTON -- North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis captured the Republican nomination to oppose imperiled Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan Tuesday night, overcoming anti-establishment rivals by a comfortable margin in the first of a springtime spate of primaries testing the strength of a Tea Party movement that first rocked the GOP four years ago.

Mr. Tillis was winning about 45 percent of the vote with ballots counted in 72 percent of the state's precincts, surpassing the 40 percent to avoid a July runoff. Greg Brannon was trailing despite support from Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mark Harris, a Baptist pastor, was third.

In Ohio, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald won the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. John Kasich in the fall.

Democrats may join panel

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats opened the door Tuesday to participating in a special panel's investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, even if they see it as little more than an election-year ploy by Republicans to discredit the Obama administration and motivate GOP voters.

Laying out her party's conditions, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Republicans must conduct interviews and share information as part of their new inquest into the Obama administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic post that killed four Americans. She called for the same number of Democrats as Republicans on the panel, a demand the GOP majority immediately rejected.

Senators want highway money

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee's two top lawmakers said Tuesday they want to fashion a short-term cash infusion for the U.S. Highway Trust Fund that will keep road and bridge projects going while Congress works on longer-term legislation.

Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said avoiding the prospect of stalled highway projects and laid-off construction workers may depend on adding $10 billion to keep the trust fund solvent through the end of this year.

Obama backs VA leader

WASHINGTON -- The nation's largest veterans group called Monday for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and two top department administrators over alleged issues with quality of care and cover-ups at some VA medical centers.

The White House indicated Monday that President Barack Obama will stand behind Mr. Shinseki, noting the department's inspector general is investigating the allegations.

Aide talks to N.J. bridge panel

TRENTON, N.J. -- A former aide to Gov. Chris Christie said her supervisor, Bridget Anne Kelly, was angry that staffers had contact with the mayor of the New Jersey town targeted for traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge.

Christina Renna told a legislative panel Tuesday that she told staff last August to "back off" Mayor Mark Sokolich when the state Office of Intergovernmental Affairs was contacted by the Fort Lee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Kelly is the Christie aide who wrote, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" in an email before lane closings that tied up roads at the bridge after Mr. Sokolich didn't endorse the governor's re-election.

Skydivers spent hours at WTC

NEW YORK -- Three skydivers spent about four hours atop the World Trade Center's signature skyscraper taking in sights before parachuting off it, they said Tuesday in detailing a surreptitious stunt that raised questions about security and left them facing felony charges.

They pleaded not guilty Tuesday to burglary, reckless endangerment and other charges.

-- Compiled from news services


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